Henry Winkler grew up amid a lot of adversity. Now, he is a parent and grandparent, and unlike his childhood, he has vowed to make sure his kids always get an understanding adult who is caring for them.
Henry Winkler grew up struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. This resulted in him doing poorly in school, which would upset his parents as they put a lot of importance on education and were critical of his bad performance.
Because of his consistent bad performance in academics, his parents nicknamed him “Dumm Hund,” which meant dumb dog. As a result, he would often be in trouble at home. The actor recalls that his high school years were mostly him being forced to stay at home because he was grounded. He said he could only remember his mother laughing perhaps twice in her life.
He even clearly remembered the circumstances when she laughed. Once when she was tickled and the other time when she read about a funny invention.
However, she would often be angry or upset with her children for even the slightest misstep. This made for a bleak childhood for Winkler but it made him promise himself that he would never be that kind of a parent himself.
He barely had any positive childhood memories with his parents and would feel left out when other children talked about their tender moments with their parents. He had also lost all his grandparents to concentration camps. And now that he is a grandparent himself often laments how wonderful it would have been to have them around in his life.
Winkler’s dyslexia was severe; he could barely get through a book on his own. His condition went undiagnosed till he was about 31 years old! While the actor praised his parents for how they escaped the holocaust and built a new life for their children, he does not shy away from talking about the emotional damage they did.
When Winkler was 31 years old, his stepson Jed was being tested for dyslexia. This is when Winkler realized he had been the same condition himself since childhood. They later discovered all three of his children had dyslexia, but because of early testing and diagnosis, they made sure it would be dealt with and not impact their children’s self-esteem!
Winkler met his wife Stacey in 1976 when he played The Fonz on “Happy Days.” He saw her at a store in purple parachute pants and with fiery red hair and could not stop thinking about her beauty.
He approached Stacey with the plan of making a move. However, he asked her about wedding gifts, to which Stacey promptly told him gift service was not her area of expertise. However, she did not walk away from Winkler, which made him think she might be interested. Later, the pair went to grab ginger ales from across the street. They began dating and a few weeks later, Stacey moved in with Winkler with her son, Jed.
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The couple married in 1978 and had two more children together; Zoe and Max. The couple is deeply in love from the moment they met to now. His wife has been by Winkler’s side through thick and thin; keeping her wedding vows.
Stacey said about their marriage, “The most wonderful thing is to really be able to grow with someone. We’re not the same people we were when we got married. But certain of the tenets you hold dear are still intact.”
However, Stacey was quick to remind everyone that a marriage takes work and that both people in the relationship need to work at it all the time, and work through the issues too!
The couple approaches parenting differently too. Winkler, who had had a tough time in his childhood, made it a priority to be a different kind of father to his children. The couple did a podcast together where they talked about how they had one major rule in the house; to always tell the truth.
Stacey reflected back on her own childhood where her parents always allowed her to defend herself with the truth and how those interactions made her who she is!
Her father was always very open with his children and as a result Stacey never hid anything from her parents. Even in those days, she was transparent to her parents about losing her virginity at the age of 17 to a boy who never called her back.
Instead of being upset, her parents were there to comfort her. Her dad even took her to a Russian dance to make her feel better. She tries to incorporate the same kind of parenting with her children and Winkler supports her every step of the way!
via Henry Winker/TikTok
Henry’s father Harry Irving Winkler was the president of an international lumber company, and his mom, Ilse Anna Maria worked with him in the same company. His parents wanted him to follow in their footsteps and work for the same company too. But that was not Winkler’s dream.
As much as he appreciated all his parents had done for him after escaping the holocaust, he still said they had been emotionally destructive. So as a parent, Winkler’s main priority was always to be kind and patient with his own kids.
Now Winkler is a grandparent to six children! He really enjoys the role of grandpa and has thoughts on what makes a good caregiver! He says it is important to listen to children, saying usually the role of listening to a child is missing in every adult-child relationship but it is very important to do so!
And while Winkler loves spending time with his grandkids, he makes sure to never break a rule that his kids have set up for them. He even calls them to ask about any possible rules so as to make sure he isn’t breaking any boundaries that have already been set up for the kids.
Winkler takes his grandkids to McDonaldäs, stars in their TikTok videos with them, and dotes on them endlessly. The 77-year-old actor video calls them when he cannot see them physically and makes sure to send them souvenirs from his travels.
In a recent interview, he revealed that he even spoon-feeds the newest addition to his family. Sharing with the audience that he gets emotional when he thinks about spoon-feeding his grandchild as well.
What an incredibly sweet grandfather Henry Winkler is. Who wouldn’t want to have an empathetic and kind man as their grandpa? What lucky kids his grandchildren are!